First-place South Dakota State took a 15-point halftime lead and held off a late second-half push to defeat UNO 74-64.
“We had a few letdowns towards the end of the first half, a few missed assignments,” UNO coach Chance Lindley said. “But minus probably seven or eight minutes of the first half, I felt we played very well. The second half I wouldn’t have changed hardly anything.”
UNO (14-6 overall, 4-4 Summit) hung close for most of the first half Saturday before 468 at Sapp Fieldhouse, but the Jackrabbits finished with a 19-5 run for a 39-24 lead at the break. South Dakota State (15-6, 7-1) scored the final eight points of the half.
“I thought we gave them our best shot in the second half,” UNO forward Carolyn Blair-Mobley said. “We got down in the first half where we could have done a little better. But overall we gave them a good shot — not our worst, but not our best.”
UNO opened the second half with six straight points to get within 39-30, but the Jackrabbits responded with six of their own to rebuild the lead to 45-30.
Twice more the Mavericks got within nine points, the last on a pair of free throws by Blair-Mobley with 5:58 left to make it 64-55.
Megan Waytashek had 11 points while Hannah Strop, Katie Lingle and Gabrielle Boever all had 10 for the Jackrabbits.
“They have a lot of weapons, and they’re very deep,” Lindley said.
Blair-Mobley led UNO with 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Jamie Nash had 17 points and Paige Frauendorfer had 16. The senior trio combined for all but 14 of UNO’s points.
South Dakota State was able to extend its first-half lead even though Waytashek — averaging 16.0 points in Summit League games — played only six minutes because of foul trouble.
Boever, averaging 5.3 points and shooting 22.2 percent from 3, hit 2 of 3 from long range while scoring eight first-half points, including a leaning jumper and a 3 that pushed the lead to 29-19 and capped a 9-0 run.
Rachel Walters, averaging 1.8 points and shooting 21.2 percent from 3, hit 2 of 4 first-half 3s for six points, including the basket that made it 37-24 with 35 seconds left.
“You want everybody covered at all times, but if those are the ones hitting the 3s in the first half, you would prefer that,” Lindley said. “We keyed on others, and we did a very good job on them. Some others who don’t shoot as much, don’t hit as much, did. If we had to do it all over again, I think we still would have guarded very similar.”
Ashley Eide, the Jackrabbits’ leading scorer for the season at 14.5 per game, hit a pull-up jumper in transition in the closing seconds of the half to put the lead at 15 points.
South Dakota State shot 55.2 percent from the field in the first half, while UNO connected at just 34.6 percent and had 12 turnovers.
The Jackrabbits hit 47.8 percent in the second half and also had 13 turnovers. Meanwhile, UNO outscored them 40-35 in the final 20 minutes while going 18 for 18 at the free throw line, capping a 21-for-22 day there.
“They don’t make a whole lot of mistakes — on either end,” Lindley said. “They’re a very good defensive team. We did a much better job of attacking more the second half — we shot 22 free throws, so we’re doing the right things.”
The Jackrabbits, who have won four straight Summit League tournaments and three of the league’s past five regular-season titles, improved to 2-1 this year against Nebraska’s Division I schools, having previously beaten Nebraska 60-55 and lost to Creighton 63-54.
“We don’t like to lose, but I think we can really feed off this,” Blair-Mobley said. “We did some good things. We’ve just got to tighten up a few things. We can stay positive, keep on moving in the conference and do really well to end the season.”
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